Ubisoft Update: 7 Games Canceled in 7 Months
What is Ubisoft?
Ubisoft, the game developer giant located in Paris, France, has long been a leader in the gaming industry. From its beginnings as a family company in the mid-80s, the game studio has produced some of the most successful games in recent history, including Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, and titles within the Tom Clancy franchise such as Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell. Ubisoft’s games have certainly been very influential in the gaming world, and for good reason: read more about the company and its future here.
In spite of their long legacy of success, several issues within the company have led to negative publicity in recent months.
What’s with Ubisoft’s recent troubles?
You may have heard about some issues at the company in recent months. One piece of news is that Ubisoft is down: many were shocked to see the company’s stock price drop as much as 21% on Thursday, January 12th. This negative slump in Ubisoft stock value can be attributed to the press release the same day, in which the company announced the cancellation of three games, in addition to the cancellation of four other titles in the last months of 2022.
Hence, 7 games have been canceled in the span of 7 months, an inauspicious sign of the company’s recent performance. These canceled video games included Splinter Cell VR, Ghost Recon Frontline, and Project Q; other titles remain unannounced.
Some of the company's troubles are reflected in its net worth, which has plummeted from a high of $11.94 billion in 2020 to $3.52 billion in 2022 and a current low of $2.63 billion. The 2020 figures were certainly boosted by the surge in revenues across the video game industry as a result of the global COVID pandemic, but the waning influence of such increased revenues is not the only reason for the decline in Ubisoft stock.
While the French video game company maintains that the introduction of hybrid and fully remote work has dragged down efficiency, sources within the company point to problems with the games themselves: namely, that the games are unpolished or simply not what consumers want. This latter problem has been cited as the main reason for the cancellation of Ghost Recon Frontline.
But the negative financial landscape within the gaming industry is not the only problem, according to unsatisfied members within the company's ranks. Employees represented by the French union Solidaires Informatiques called for a strike from 2 to 6 pm on Friday, January 27th.
In their official memorandum, the union expressed their dissatisfaction with issues like “overtime, managerial pressure, burnout.” They called for a 10% increase in all salaries, an improvement in working conditions including the implementation of the 4-day work week, greater transparency and a “condemnation of abusive managerial policies,” in particular “disguised dismissals.” These developments represent mounting suspicion in the gaming community regarding the company’s toxic workplace practices.
Which games were canceled?
While four of the projects are still unannounced, three of the canceled video games were Ghost Recon Frontline, Project Q, and Splinter Cell VR.
Playtesting in late 2022 for Ghost Recon Frontline led senior developer Fawzi Mesmar to announce in a press release that the game wasn't "meeting player expectations." This turn of phrase, of course, left a lot of people wondering about which aspects of gameplay proved so unappealing that the project had to be scrapped.
Some have pointed to players’ dissatisfaction with the unpopularity of its live functionality, which is thought to come at the expense of the stealth-based gameplay so fundamental to the franchise’s previous greatness. As of now, it is unclear whether or not Ubisoft has plans to continue with the series, bad news for fans of the franchise.
In this vein, an article on The Gamer with the title “Ghost Recon Frontline Is Proof That Not Everything Needs To Be A Live Service” summarizes all that players were dissatisfied with about the gameplay experience: for many, the live functionality felt like a transparent cash grab meant to cash in on the popularity of games like PUBG and Fortnite in an uncreative way.
Project Q is another game that has been canceled in recent months. Wording in the game announcement released in mid-2022 around "ownership" raised concerns from players that the game was a blockchain-based game including NFTs.
Although the company subsequently denied that the game would include NFTs, the original wording regarding "ownership" in the announcement was never changed, and many players remained skeptical of the game's true features. In any case, the bad publicity generated ultimately led to the project's cancellation.
As to the reasons behind the cancellation of Splinter Cell VR, announced in 2020 at the Oculus Connect virtual event, things are murkier: the company noted only a “more uncertain economic environment,” a generalization that could be applied to any of the company’s recent delays or cancellations.
The company's troubles have also led to the sixth delay of the ill-fated Skull and Bones, a game that has by now been in production for around a decade. A recent press release cites "early 2023-2024" as the current target for release of the unfortunately named Skull and Bones.
With all these cancellations, you may be wondering: which games are actually still coming from Ubisoft in 2023? Investors wondered the same thing at an emergency investor call on January 12th, 2023: Ubisoft representatives pointed to Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Assassin's Creed: Mirage, and "other premium unannounced games, including a large one" as examples of what the company will be offering in the next fiscal year, which starts in April.
Looking towards the future
How will the company respond to these issues, and what changes can be expected in the coming months? Well, for one, the company appears to want to reduce costs by focusing on fewer games and potentially "restructuring," which could possibly mean layoffs. It's also planning to depreciate around 500 million euros of capitalized research and development. As of early January 2023, the French video game company had about €1.4 billion of cash and non-cash equivalence.
Hopefully, the company can overcome its revenue woes and workplace condition issues to focus on delivering the innovative gaming experiences it has become famous for.
In the meantime, check out Acer’s gaming laptops for high-performing devices that will have you prepared for any new release.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Matthew Anderson: Matthew is a freelance content writer whose work has previously appeared in well-known language-learning blog Fluent in 3 Months and The Happy Self-Publisher. His creative work has also appeared in Otoliths, CafeLit, and the Eunoia Review. He is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, where he is studying for a master's degree in Chinese Literature.